In his book French Lessons, Justin North described the crackling as extremely light and puffy. I tried his method twice just to prove that his theory works and it was not first time luck. I was so pleased. Every inch of skin was crackling - no chewy bits.
This method of preparing the skin is less arduous and simpler than in my previous recipe where the skin is first bathed in vinegar water and then poked during the grilling process. There was a lot more handling.
We believe it is the total combination of scoring, salting the skin to draw out moisture, drying the skin in the fridge and frying that makes the skin crackling.
The meat was also very tender and juicy. What we do need is an incredibly razor sharp knife and heaps of practice with scoring the skin as in some parts it was cut too deep.
1kg pork shoulder
1 tsp salt
Marinate for meat:
½ tsp white pepper
½ tsp Chinese five-spice powder
1½ pieces of red fermented beancurd nam yue, well mashed
1 tsp cooking wine
½ tsp sugar
1. Use a very sharp knife or a Stanley knife to score the rind, parallel incisions about 1cm apart. Do not cut too deep. Massage the skin with salt.
2. Mix the marinate together and smear it onto the meat portion. I randomly poked the meat with a fork to enable the marinate to penetrate the meat.
3. Place pork on a dish skin side up uncovered (fig 1). Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. (Overnight is best. The meat will be more flavoursome and the skin will be thoroughly dry).
4. Preheat the oven to 170C.
5. Lightly oil a heavy base or cast iron pan and heat on high. Turn the heat to medium and place the pork skin side down to fry for 5-10 minutes.
6. Remove and place on a roasting rack, skin side up (fig 2). Roast for 50 minutes.
7. The crackling will be extremely light and puffy at this stage. Rest for 10 minutes before cutting to bite size pieces.
1. The slow cooking of the pork at an even temperature ensures the meat is juicy and tender.
2. To ensure a good crackling, dry the skin first and then fry in hot oil before roasting in the oven.
3. Towards the end of the roasting, if the skin have not crackled enough, turn the grill on during the last 5-10 minutes and move the pork nearer to the grill to give the skin that extra blast.
Crackling Skin Recipe : French Lessons /Lecons Francaises by Justin North (adapted)